Business license revoked after pot bust

2012-10-31T23:00:00Z Business license revoked after pot bustBob Moulesong Times Correspondent
October 31, 2012 11:00 pm  • 

LYNWOOD | The Village Board voted unanimously Wednesday to revoke the business license for Sweets and Eats after an employee was arrested for selling cannabis to an undercover police officer.

The business was located at 19765 Torrence Ave. The business owner is Althea Ballard, of Lynwood.

At a public hearing scheduled to decide the business’ fate, Chief of Police Michael Mears testified before the board.

“On October 8, I was notified that several residents reported drugs could be purchased at Sweets and Eats,” Mears told the board. “Based on that information, we established an investigation of the business.”

Mears stated that the investigation consisted of surveillance, video surveillance, and the use of tactical units.

“Our initial investigation resulted in a decision to send undercover officers into the business with the intent to purchase cannabis if possible,” Mears said.

On Oct. 13, Ballard’s son and employee, Nathaniel Ballard, sold $25 worth of cannabis to an undercover officer, Mears said.

Lynwood police then arrested the employee and closed the business. Sweets and Eats has been shut down since.

During the hearing, Village Prosecutor Dennis Gianopolus told the board that both village ordinances and state statutes were violated by the sale of cannabis.

“The law specifically states that a business cannot operate a public nuisance,” Gianopolus told the board. “This operation did just that.”

Mears also testified that Nathaniel Ballard signed a written statement that he had previously sold cannabis at the shop on at least 10 occasions.

Althea Ballard told the board that she was not present at the time of the sale to an undercover officer, and that she had no knowledge that illegal drugs had ever been sold out of the shop.

“I cannot control what others do,” Ballard told the board. “When I am not there, I have no control over others.”

The board voted 5-0 to revoke the license immediately, which is a permanent revocation. Trustee Tim Dunlap was absent with notice from the meeting.

Village President Gene Williams said that the action was aligned with the village’s zero tolerance policy.

“We take this sort of illegal activity very seriously,” Williams said. “We do not tolerate this type of activity in our village. We want to send a clear message that this type of behavior will be dealt with as strongly as possible.”

Criminal charges against Nathaniel Ballard are pending. There are currently no charges against Althea Ballard.

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